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Obesity in American children is said to be growing at epidemic proportions. Sources on the Internet like www.vegetarian-nutrition.info report that about 9 million children, or 15 percent of kids 6 to 11 years of age, are considered overweight -- a number that has tripled during the past 30 years.
Naperville resident Eileen Murphy would like to do something about those numbers, and while she can't help every kid overcome his or her problems, perhaps her fledgling business can inspire others
Murphy, 41, is a mother of three children who has tried to teach her own kids good habits in terms of diet and exercise. Her plan is to offer "Fun with Fitness" -- a three-days-a-week exercise and social event for kids between the ages of 5 and 11. Murphy said she hopes to
"One of the concerns is in regards to kids who are overweight and just not being as active as they need to be," she said. "There's also the child who doesn't like to play team sports, isn't on a travel league or that sort of thing. I feel those kids still need an activity, too.
Once she heard about the NFL Play 60 program at Thanksgiving, she jumped with both feet. "The NFL has this program that's all about kids being more fit, and I could really see that the issue of kids being overweight in this country is really a serious issue," Murphy said. "A few weeks before I heard about the NFL program, I saw this overweight woman at a store with her three kids, who all looked overweight themselves. I thought to myself, 'It's not their fault.' They just need to be taught better habits."
Murphy piloted her program Jan. 5. Too keep classes small, she has limited participants to no more than six per session, which will take place Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 45 minutes. One session will focus on kids 5 to 7, the other ages 8 to 11. Activities, she said, will be very fundamental.
"I'm not going to have weights and a lot of aerobic equipment," Murphy said. "The focus will not be weight loss but rather healthy lifestyles. We will combine exercise with fun using basic aerobics, exercise balls, hula hoops, jump ropes and punching bags. There will be a short discussion at the end of each day about eating healthy -- not dieting but making healthy choices." Murphy envisions sending kids home with a laminated "Tip of the week" to give them something to think about.
"It could be something as simple as portion control," she said. "I tell my own children when they have a snack to look at what the serving size is on the package, and that's all they get. If we go to McDonald's, I tell them not to get french fries, and if they do, the first thing is to reach into the bag and throw half of them away."
"I'm not ready to pass up fitness during the winter months when kids aren't swimming at the pool or playing soccer," Hausmann said. "I trust her (Murphy) and can't think of a better way to spend my money than on my children's fitness. "Both of my children are excited about starting this," Hausmann added. "I didn't make them do this -- they told me they wanted to be a part of it."